800 Leeds bus drives strike over company’s refusal to move pay anniversary date back to normal

Around 800 First West Yorkshire bus drivers will begin strike action every day from 18 June over the company’s refusal to return the date on which new pay rises are enacted back to normal. 

The workers, who are members of Unite, the UK’s leading union, agreed during the pandemic to change their anniversary pay date to October to assist the company financially.  

First West Yorkshire has refused to move the date back to April however, meaning workers have been left struggling during the cost-of-living crisis and will not receive a much needed pay increase until October at the earliest. 

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “When First West Yorkshire needed its drivers to dig deep for the company, they did. Not only did they put their and their families’ health on the line by continuing to drive First buses, they also agreed to delay getting a pay rise. 

“First Group have taken advantage of this sacrifice to keep their drivers’ wages down as inflation has rocketed. Our members are absolutely right to strike at what is essentially a stab in the back by First West Yorkshire and they will receive Unite’s total support.”  

Bus drivers had one of the highest mortality rates for workers who died from Covid19 during the pandemic.

In March, FirstGroup announced that its operating profits for 2023 are expected to be higher than the previously estimated £137.4 million. In 2022, the group brought in operating profits of £226.8 million.

The workers are based out of First West Yorkshire’s two Leeds depots, meaning bus services across the city will be severely affected. 

Unite regional officer Darren Rushworth said: “First’s profits continue to soar. This dispute can be brought to an end quickly and simply: First West Yorkshire need to return the anniversary date back to April and begin pay talks.” 


For media enquires ONLY contact Unite communications officer Ryan Fletcher on 07849 090215.

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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.